The benefits system provides a number of different funding streams for care and support for older people and their carers. Some are means tested – ie based on income, others based upon care needs, and others on what other benefits someone may be on. It’s complicated! There is paperwork to be completed, but well worth ensuring that parents and relatives are receiving the benefits they are eligible for. Click on the quick links directly below, or read on for more information.
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independent Payments (PIP)
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Benefits for Carers
In addition to the state pension and pension credit, the other main benefits available are:
1) Attendance Allowance
Attendance allowance is a benefit available to the majority of people who need more help. It is for anyone aged over 65 who needs help with social care – washing, dressing or eating- due to an illness or disability. It is available for those who need to be looked after by day, and/or overnight in case help is needed.
The Attendance Allowance (in 2021 the lower rate of £60.00 per week for only/either day or night and the higher rate of £89.60 a week for day and night) is available to anyone who fulfils the following criteria: a physical disability such as blindness, a mental disability including dementia and learning difficulties, or both; people with a disability severe enough to need help caring for themselves, or need someone to supervise them, for their own or someone else’s safety.
Attendance Allowance is awarded based on needs, not just a medical condition. Age UK says that many applications are turned down because people don’t mention or aren’t clear about how their illness or disability affects their lives. Don’t let your parents under-estimate their needs when filling in the form. Their advice suggests that you should consider the following:
- Describe any accidents/falls,
- Explain the effects of all disabilities and health conditions and how they interact with each other,
- List things that your parent struggles to do unaided, even if they have developed ways to cope. If an activity takes longer than it would someone else, or if its difficult to do safely then this can be taken into account. Also say if your parent needs reminding or encouraging to do things, as this also counts as help,
- To qualify for the lower rate of Attendance Allowance you have to show that help is needed “frequently” – e.g. help with your appearance on a daily basis.
Bear in mind that Attendance Allowance doesnt ususally take into account problems with housework, cooking, shopping and gardening. If you mention problems with these make sure you also include other “health related”problems as you’re unlikely to receive support if household chores are the focus of the application.
2) Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
Personal Independent Payments (PIPs) can help with some of the extra costs of personal care or mobility due to a long-term illness or disability. They have replaced the DLA and are being phased for anyone aged 68 or younger in 2015, so many parents may still be receiving DLA. PIPs are needs based not dependent upon income/savings. There are 2 elements to a DLA/PIP:
Daily Living component – claimants are assessed on things like ability to prepare food and drink, wash, dress, go to the toilet, manage health conditions and make financial decisions. The rates (2021/22) range from £60.00 a week and the enhanced rate is £89.60 a week.
Mobility component – claimants are assessed on their ability to plan and follow a journey and move around. The standard rate (2019/20) is £23.70 a week and the enhanced rate is £62.55 a week). Applicants will be assessed, and can be eligible to receive both elements. To apply, you need to contact the Department of Work and Pensions on 0800 917 2222.
3) Constant Attendance Allowance
This allowance is payable to people who need daily care and attention due to a disability as a result of an accident or disease caused by work, or a War Disablement Pension. Payments range from £36.60 part-day rate to £146.40 for exceptional needs depending upon the extent of the disability and the amount of care needed.
Your relative cannot receive both this and the Attendance Allowance, however this can be topped up to bring them both to the same level. Claiming CAA may affect entitlement to other means-tested benefits such as income support, pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Benefits for Carers
A Carer’s Allowance, £67.70 per week, is available for someone who spends more than 35 hours per week caring for someone else (who may or may not be a relative). It is a means tested benefit, so is only available to someone earning (income and benefits) less than £100 a week after tax.
There are a number of criteria the carer needs to fulfil in order to be eligible; the Carer’s Allowance is taxable and may affect an entitlement to other benefits. Only one person can claim the Carer’s Allowance if there are more than one person caring; if you are in receipt of other benefits, such as retirement pension, you may not get any or all the Carer’s Allowance. If you were entitled to Carer’s Allowance before claiming it, you can ask for it to be backdated for three months.
Carer’s Credit works as an alternative to making NI contributions (in lieu of work), and helps to build an entitlement to the basic state pension. It is not means tested, and to qualify you must be aged 16 or over, under state pension age and looking after someone for at least 20 hours a week.
The person being cared for must receive one or more benefits. Carer’s Credit allows you to take short breaks including holidays or when the person you are caring for goes into hospital. If you get Carer’s Allowance you’ll automatically also receive Carer’s Credit. If not, contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits for people who are out of work or are on a low income. If you are receiving universal credit you may be able to get an extra amount because of your caring role, without having to apply for a Carer’s Allowance, which is known as a ‘carer element’. You can’t get both. For more information contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0845 600 0723.
If you’ve got a question about benefits, then please go to the Age Space forum today.
Discussing Benefits with finance guru Jason Butler
Benefits made simple is an episode of the Age Space Podcast. In it, Annabel talks to finance guru Jason Butler, who highlights some key pots of funding which are available to you or the person for whom you are caring.